Reporting obligations

Human Rights Complaints

The Australian Human Rights Commission () can investigate and conciliate complaints about breaches of human rights law, including the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. The received one complaint in which the Agency was named as a party. The complaint has now been concluded.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal () can, in response to applications, review decisions made by the Agency under the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (NDIS Act), including decisions about whether a person meets the access criteria to become a participant in the Scheme, the supports provided under the Scheme and the registration of providers of support.

At 30 June 2017, 55 of the 186 applications for review received in 2016–17 had been finalised, and 131 matters remained undecided. One of the undecided matters has been to hearing and a decision was pending at 30 June 2017.

Of the 55 finalised matters, 12 were varied by the with the agreement of the Agency and the applicant, 19 were dismissed by the because they were outside the ’s jurisdiction and 21 were withdrawn by the applicant. Three matters proceeded to a hearing, where the affirmed two decisions of the Agency and one decision was varied by agreement.

Refer to Appendix 3 for a list of Administrative Appeals Tribunal reviews heard in 2016-17.

In 2016-17, there were nine matters heard by the . Eight of these matters were decided, of which six had a decision published by the . One decision was pending as at 30 June 2017.

Table 6: reviews – comparison in years 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17

Year Reviews
related
to access decisions
Reviews related to supports funded under NDIS plans Reviews related to a decision
not to conduct
a plan review
Total new applications for year for review of Agency decisions Total applications for for year as percentage of active participants
2016-17 42 130 14 186 0.21%
2015-16 10 33 3 46 0.15%
2014-15 7 12 0 19 0.11%
2013-14 9 9 0 18 0.25%

Federal Court of Australia appeals

The Agency has had two Federal Court of Australia and one full Federal Court Appeal. One appeal, Mr Liam McGarrigle (VID962/2016), was regarding funding the full reasonable and necessary costs of transport to attend supported employment and a day program; and one appeal, Mr Christopher Nairn (VID329/2017), was regarding a Plan review under section 48(2) of the NDIS Act on a question of the ’s jurisdiction under section 99(f) to conduct a review of the statement of participant supports.

Appeal ruling as test case

In March 2017, the NDIA decided to appeal the Federal Court decision in relation to the case of Mr Liam McGarrigle. While it is intended that the Scheme will fund reasonable and necessary supports, the NDIS Act specifically requires the Agency to “take into account what is reasonable to expect families, carers, informal networks and the community to provide” amongst other criteria when determining what supports are reasonable and necessary to fund.

The NDIA decided to ask the Federal Court for the fullest clarity, given the implications for the future sustainability of the Scheme. Maintaining the financial sustainability of the Scheme is central to delivering the Scheme to all of those who need it now and in the years to come.

Due to the case having implications beyond this distinct matter, the Agency agreed to pay the reasonable legal costs of the appeal for Mr McGarrigle, regardless of the outcome.

In August 2017, the Federal Court determined the case should be remitted back to the for a further hearing. The NDIA welcomes the opportunity for a full and detailed discussion of the matter before the .

Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme

On 1 September 2016, the House of Representatives established the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS with a membership of five senators and five members. The Committee is tasked with inquiring into the following:

  • the implementation, performance and governance of the NDIS;
  • the administration and expenditure of the NDIS; and
  • such other matters in relation to the NDIS as may be referred to it by either House of the Parliament.

After 30 June each year, the Committee is required to present an annual progress report to Parliament on the activities of the Committee during the year, in addition to other reports on any other matters it considers relevant.

The Committee is currently conducting four inquiries with reports due in late 2017:

  • the provision of hearing services under the NDIS;
  • the provision of services under the NDIS for people with psychosocial disabilities related to a mental health condition;
  • transitional arrangements for the NDIS; and
  • provision of services under the NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention Approach.

The Committee did not table a progress report in 2016 due to the Federal Election.

Australian National Audit Office Performance Audit Reports

The Auditor-General is responsible for providing auditing services (both financial and performance) to the Parliament and public sector entities, supported by the Australian National Audit Office (). The ’s five-year audit strategy from 2015 for the NDIS includes a series of potential performance audits over the forward period.

The first phase of performance audits included an assessment of the management of the approach taken to transitioning the disability services market to the NDIS market arrangements. The tabled its report in Parliament in November 2016. The audit focussed jointly on the Agency and . The audit found that and the Agency had established the building blocks for a successful transition of the disability services market to the NDIS, but some risks and gaps remained.

While the report contained no findings or subsequent action items for the Agency, the Agency and continue to work with state and territory governments to implement the Bilateral Agreements to transition to a full Scheme NDIS. Each Bilateral Agreement includes a System and Sector Readiness Schedule, which sets out agreed activities to prepare the market and workforce and respond to any sector or system readiness issues in each state or territory.

A second performance audit is being undertaken. Its focus is decision-making controls for financial sustainability. This is being undertaken in three tranches. Fieldwork for the first tranche – access decisions – commenced in early 2017. Its focus is to assess the effectiveness of controls being implemented and/or developed by the NDIA to ensure that NDIA access decisions are consistent with legislative and other requirements. The final report is expected to be tabled in Parliament in late 2017.

Freedom of information

Entities subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 ( Act) are required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS). This requirement is in Part II of the Act and has replaced the former requirement to publish a section 8 statement in an Annual Report. The Agency has displayed on its website a plan showing what information it publishes in accordance with the IPS requirements.

Under the Act a person may seek access to information that is held by the Agency that concerns them or is otherwise appropriate for public release.

During 2016–17, the Agency received 84 freedom of information requests for access to copies of documents. There were six requests for internal review of an access decision. In 2016–17, the Agency received notification that one request is subject to a review by the Office of Australian Information Commissioner ().

Ombudsman complaints

The Agency is a prescribed authority for the purposes of the Ombudsman Act 1976 (Ombudsman Act) and accordingly, the Commonwealth Ombudsman may investigate complaints from individuals, groups or organisations about the administrative actions of the Agency. Section 8 of the Ombudsman Act requires the Ombudsman to inform the principal officer of the Agency before commencing an investigation and to conduct such an investigation in private. The Ombudsman may conduct an investigation in any such manner, and make any inquiry as he or she thinks fit. The Agency may be requested to provide assistance and information relevant to an investigation. The Ombudsman may inform the relevant Minister and bring the conduct to the notice of the principal officer of the Agency.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman progressed 131 section 8 investigations about the Agency during 2016–17. The Agency provided file material and responses to the Ombudsman’s questions. The Ombudsman closed 60 of the matters. Of the 131 investigations, 38 were finalised without further action.

Privacy Act

The Agency complies with its privacy obligations as required under both the Privacy Act 1988 and the NDIS Act.

Compliance includes the Agency ensuring its practices and procedures are consistent with requirements under the Australian Privacy Principles, such as having an established privacy policy and maintaining a privacy incident and complaints register.

The Agency actively promotes privacy awareness through the appointment of a Privacy Contact Officer and through the ongoing development of training materials for Agency staff. Advice is also provided to staff regarding the Agency’s privacy obligations under law, particularly as it relates to ensuring promotion of one of the general principles guiding actions under the NDIS Act, which is to ensure that people with disability have their privacy and dignity respected.

During 2016-17, the Agency responded to one privacy complaint lodged with the .

NDIA property

The Agency continues to expand its presence and property across the country. Co-location of public-facing service delivery centres and non-public facing offices with other government services and agencies is a key strategy to ensure property locations are in the most appropriate and accessible areas for participants and staff. Standalone NDIS sites have been chosen only when co-location options are not available.

In line with the Bilateral Agreements signed with state and territory governments, the NDIA established six standalone service delivery sites and 39 co-located service delivery sites in 2016-17, bringing the total number of sites to 79 across Australia.

As part of identifying these sites, the NDIA worked collaboratively with the Department of Human Services (), Australian Taxation Office, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and other Commonwealth, state and territory government agencies to maximise the number of co-located NDIS offices.

Preparation is also underway with for future sites required to achieve full Scheme rollout.

The Agency ensures properties are accessible for people with disability. All sites are designed with consideration of the three key elements of accessible design: equity, independence and dignity.

New national office

In May 2017, the Agency reached a new milestone in the development of its Geelong national office with the signing of a Construction Agreement. Through a joint venture with , construction is expected to be completed in late 2018.

The new building is expected to increase the efficiency of head office operations, and make it easier for staff across Australia to engage with national office staff.

Ecological and sustainable development

The Agency has continued to introduce ecological and sustainable measures that reduce energy and consumption costs at each of its sites including:

  • installing energy-efficient T5 fluorescent lights and LEDs for open-plan areas and meeting rooms together with motion sensor control for the lighting;
  • installing energy-efficient variable refrigerant flow air-conditioning systems that are operated via time clock;
  • installing low-flow sanitary fixtures; and
  • supplying general waste and recyclable waste bins to suit the size of the tenancy.

The new national office, currently under construction, will meet or exceed the Government’s 5 star National Australian Built Environment Rating System requirement when completed.

Fleet vehicles

The Whole of Government arrangement for fleet vehicle selection has undergone a significant change as the motor industry no longer builds Australian made vehicles. The Agency has been proactive in moving to a wholly hybrid passenger vehicle base where available. The vehicles use both a conventional engine and electric motor to achieve significantly better fuel efficiency than their non-hybrid counterparts. In terms of greenhouse emissions, the hybrid vehicles selected reduce tailpipe CO2 emissions and stationary noise and will considerably reduce annual fuel costs. The selection of four wheel drive vehicles is still limited to petrol and diesel options as no hybrid option is available. The Agency’s total fleet number has increased from 91 in 2015-16 to 151 in 2016-17.

Workplace health and safety

The NDIA acknowledges its responsibilities under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 ( Act), the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 and anti-discrimination legislation.

The Agency takes all reasonably practicable measures to protect the health, safety and welfare of its workers while at work, including providing a safe work environment. The NDIA’s Work Health and Safety Policy and Health and Safety Management Arrangements promote consultation, prevention and early intervention, and are aligned with a steadfast commitment to safeguard and value Agency employees.

The NDIA recognises that effective health and safety management systems are good business practice and contribute to reducing work-related injury and illness occurrences and costs. The Agency also supports access to information about overall health and wellbeing for staff.

Specific actions in 2016–17 included:

  • development of a Health and Safety Management Plan with extensive staff consultation, which provides a structured approach to achieve the objectives of the Agency’s Work Health and Safety (
  • enhancing the Rehabilitation Management System documentation to better support health and wellbeing, and injury and illness management;
  • improving [tooltip tip="Work Health and Safety"]WHS risk management by establishing reporting and trend analysis against metrics;
  • re-launching the Wellness and Culture Champions Network nationally;
  • delivery of prevention of psychosocial injury training nationwide; and
  • availability of the National Influenza Vaccination Program, which 640 staff accessed.

In 2016–17, the Agency reported eight incidents to Comcare pursuant to section 38 of the Act. Comcare deemed two of those incidents as “not notifiable”. The Agency undertook four investigations under Part 10 of the Act.

The Act requires the Agency to provide statistics of any notifiable incidents of which it became aware of during the year that arose out of the conduct of business or undertakings by the entity, and any investigations conducted and notices given.

Refer to Appendix 4 for a summary of incidents pursuant to section 38 of the Act.

Purchasing arrangements

The majority of the Agency’s corporate and services are provided by through shared services arrangements.

These arrangements are governed by the Services Schedule, the Business Services Schedule and the Shared Services Schedule, as agreed by the Agency and .

The services provided through shared service arrangements with include:

  • People Services – payroll, travel and accessibility support.
  • Financial Services – asset management and accounting operations.
  • Business Services – staff, participant and provider portals, Enterprise Data Warehouse.
  • Infrastructure Services – Network, Desktop and End User Computing services.
  • Other Corporate Services – security, fleet, records management, procurement and stationery.

These shared service arrangements also enable the delivery of contact centre services on behalf of the Agency. As the current provider of these functions, ensures resources are in place to respond to participants and providers calling the Agency’s 1800 number.

The Agency also has a Memorandum of Understanding with for the provision of library and limited services.

The Agency has Bilateral Agreements with states and territories that outline how the Scheme is expected to operate in sites including the roles and responsibilities of the Commonwealth and respective state and territory governments.

Advertising and market research

The organisations listed below provided advertising and market research services to the Agency in 2016-17. Under section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, only payments above $13,000 (inclusive of GST) are listed below.

Table 7: Payments to market research and polling organisations in 2016-17

Provider name Service provided Amount paid $ (incl GST)
Arc Research Market research 161,040.00
Crosby Textor Market research 138,358.00

Table 8: Payments to direct mail organisations in 2016-17:

Provider name Service provided Amount paid $ (incl GST)
Carbine Media Pty Ltd Direct Mail 14,300.00
Carbine Media Pty Ltd Direct Mail 14,300.00

Table 9: Payments to media advertising organisations in 2016-17:

Provider name Service provided Amount paid $ (incl GST)
Dentsu Mitchell Media Australia Pty Ltd Advertising 13,706.54
Dentsu Mitchell Media Australia Pty Ltd Advertising 23,302.53
Dentsu Mitchell Media Australia Pty Ltd Advertising 16,863.11
Dentsu Mitchell Media Australia Pty Ltd Advertising 85,758.98

Grants programs

Three types of grants were administered by the Agency in the 2016-17 financial year:

  • Community Inclusion and Capacity Development grants, including Information, Linkages and Capacity Building Grants.
  • Grants to support Partners in the Community – Local Area Coordination and Early Childhood Early Intervention activities.
  • Miscellaneous NDIA grants.

Internal Audit and Risk Management

Internal audit

The Agency had an internal audit program in place throughout 2016-17. The risk-based program assists the Agency to identify and strengthen potential weaknesses across the control and governance processes in place to manage the Agency’s risks.

The objectives of the Agency’s internal audit program are to provide assurance to the CEO and Board that the Agency’s financial and operational controls are functioning efficiently, effectively, economically and ethically whilst assisting management to improve the Agency’s business performance.

The Board’s Audit Committee has overall responsibility for the internal audit program, including determining the audits to be conducted, receiving reports, and monitoring management action taken to address audit findings. The 2016–17 internal audit program focussed on transition to full Scheme, and included learning and development, Agency’s costing, program reporting, property management, data integrity and the Partners in the Community sourcing processes.

Risk management

The approach adopted by the Board is set out in the Agency’s risk management strategy that has been developed to comply with the NDIS Risk Management Rules 2013 (RMR). Consistent with the RMR, and reflecting the insurance basis of the Scheme, the Board uses the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s Prudential Risk Standard (CPS220) as the standard by which risk management activities are assessed in the Agency.

The risk management strategy:

  • outlines the risk governance relationship between the Board, committees of the Board and Agency senior management;
  • sets out specific risk management roles and responsibilities; and
  • describes the processes for identifying and assessing risks, for how the Agency raises staff risk awareness and develops an appropriate risk culture, and for the annual review process by which the Agency assesses the effectiveness of its risk management framework.

The Board and the Agency focus on early risk identification, mitigation and monitoring, in particular for strategic risks that could materially impact on the success of the Scheme.

The Agency has in place a Chief Risk Officer and associated Enterprise Risk team, who report directly to the CEO. The Agency’s approach to risk can be explained as follows:

  • The Board sets the strategic intent through the Corporate Plan and determines the Agency’s strategic risks, approves the risk management strategy and risk appetite statements. The Board oversees the building of an appropriate risk culture and provides a risk management declaration.
  • The Board’s Risk Committee oversees the risk management strategy, its implementation and the regular review of its efficiency and effectiveness. It formulates draft risk appetite statements and tolerances for Board approval, and notifies the Board of any significant breach of, or material deviation from, the risk management strategy or framework.
  • The Board’s Audit Committee provides assurance of the Agency’s internal control environment.
  • The Board’s Sustainability Committee assesses, monitors, reports and manages Scheme financial sustainability including oversight of risks to Scheme.
  • The NDIS Act establishes the role of the Scheme Actuary who is responsible for assessing the financial sustainability of the Scheme and identifying recommendations to manage or address these risks. The Scheme Actuary prepares an annual sustainability report which includes a discussion of the Agency’s risk management arrangements and any recommendations in relation to inadequacies.
  • In addition, the Chief Risk Officer assists the Board and its executive by providing objective risk review, oversight, monitoring and reporting. This oversight role has independent reporting access to the Board through the Risk Committee.

Operational implementation

Operational and project risks are monitored and managed by the Agency’s senior executives regularly. Senior executives are supported in this task by an Agency-wide framework which facilitates the identification and reporting of risks for consideration and action. Oversight is provided by the senior executive Enterprise Risk Committee.

Indemnities and insurance

The NDIA purchased directors’ and officers’ liability insurance from Comcover for 2016-17 and the premium paid for this cover was $567,903. No legal claims were made against any senior manager of the NDIA during 2016-17.